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Natural Ways to Healthy Immune Function
- By Stephen Holt, M.D.

Based on current in vitro research findings, BioDefense™ is at least 100 times more potent at increasing NK cell function than MGN3®, in independent laboratory research

The Body’s Biodefenses
The immune system is the body’s biodefense. Immune function involves a complex cascade of events. There are intelligent communications between all tissues of the body. Alterations in the balanceof the immune function are responsible for the cause or progression of many common diseases, including cancer, chronic inflammatory disorders, arthritis and specific autoimmune disease. People talk about boosting immune function but most often they really mean balancing immune function.

Overview of Immune Function
Various types of white cells in the body aggregate to form lymphatic tissues which are the pivotal structures of the immune system. A complex series of chemical messengers are shared among cells involved in immune defense and normal cells. Antibody production by specific types of white cells is responsible for clearing the tissue fluids of harmful intruders, e.g. antigens or microorganisms.
The biodefenses within the immune system are not simple in their structure or function. Elaborate mechanisms of biodefense are present in entry sites into the body, including the nasal passages, throat and entire gastrointestinal tract.
Understanding the complexity of the body structure and functions involved in immunity is a difficult task for even the most knowledgeable health care giver. The complexity of the cascade of events that occur during immune functionsmakes it highly unlikely that any single agent, be it food or a drug or a dietary supplement, will have an efficient effect on balancing or promoting immune function.
Recommendations for single dietary supplements to “boost” immunity are somewhat misguided. “Boosting” certain aspects of the complex events in immune-related diseases may, on occasion, do more harm than good.
The additive benefits and versatile nature of many different natural agents that can work on different aspects of immune events are quite desirable in dietary supplement formulations. (e.g. Biodefense™)

Self-Reliance for Self-Management of Immune Function
Many people are seeking natural substances that will help to deliver optimal immune function in the body and help with nutritional control of unwanted inflammatory responses. Modern research on remedies of natural origin has pointed to a number of remedies of natural origin that have complex actions on immune function. These actions occur at many different sites in the overall cascade of immune events.
I stress that using more than one natural agent that works on different aspects of immune function is the optimal approach. This has led to the use of synergistic formulations of dietary supplements where many different dietary supplements are combined to get a more global and complete overall effect on immunity. (e.g. Biodefense™). The word “synergy” means that each natural component in a dietary supplement may have an added benefit when mixed together.

Advanced Supplement Formulations for Immune Support
Single-agent approaches with one herb or nutrient possess disadvantages and limitations. For example, sterolins (Moducare™) or mushroom extracts (MGN3™) are valuable immune stimulators but they have focused and limited effects on only certain aspects of immune function. There is a way of producing an improved dietary supplement that can be used in combination to stimulate immune function in a more global manner. Such combinations do not rely upon an isolated component of the immune cascade of events.
Any natural agent that exerts an antioxidant function can be potentially valuable in promoting healthy immune function, because oxidative stress (free-radical damage) to components of the immune system is a common reason for disordered immunity. In particular, the following antioxidants are of great value for immune well-being: Vitamin C, zinc, green tea, turmeric, grapeseed extract and antioxidants found in a variety of herbs and botanicals (Table 1).
Botanical agents with specific immune-enhancing power include several species of mushrooms, plant sources of beta glucan, Echinacea and the potent and versatile herb Andrographis paniculata (AP). Recent research implies that AP may be a very powerful stimulator of immune function by its specific actions on chemical signals in certain cells, and it has potent immune properties. As a supplement, Andrographis carries no treatment claims.
Very Important Message
Recent research links excessive intake of simple sugars in the diet with depressed immunity in both the short and long term. Who would have thought that America’s love affair with sweet foods would open the door for chronic disease in a manner that has been unsurpassed in medical history? Seventy million Americans have the metabolic syndrome or Syndrome X, which is the combination of obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol as a consequence of insulin resistance.
Simple sugar intake in the diet is promoting the development of Syndrome X and depressed immunity. Syndrome X is the most important public health initiative facing Western society, and the dietary supplement industry has still not woken up to the importance of Syndrome X as a risk of death and disability risk from all causes.

While Syndrome X has components that people can identify with cardiovascular disease, Syndrome X also causes liver disease, cancer and diminished immune function. Syndrome X is a forerunner to the development of maturity onset diabetes mellitus. People with diabetes or Syndrome X may present themselves with the consequences of diminished immune function. Early signs of diabetes in many people include recurrent infections, e.g. yeast, Candida. he reduction of refined sugar in the diet may be a simple intervention to help restore balance to the immune system. The far-reaching health consequences of Syndrome X have resulted in a redefinition of Syndrome X as “Syndrome e X, Y and Z....” (www.combatsyndromex.com)

Conclusion
I believe that nutritional support for immune function must be multifaceted and formulations of dietary supplements that contain several different natural ingredients are the optimal way to provide nutritional support for immune function.

Resources:
Holt S, Miracle Herbs, Carol Publishing, Secaucus, NJ, 1998 Holt S, Combat Syndrome X, Y and Z..., Wellness Publishing, Newark, NJ, 2002 Reavley N, Vitamins etc., Bookman Press, Australia, 1998
www.naturesbenefit.com, www.combatsyndromex.com
Read: Holt S, “Biodefense”, www.wellnesspublishing.com



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